It’s not often that you hear CEOs and other executives call for philosophers to be among their boards. In a recent Financial Times article, there is an argument that businesses need philosophers. People who are trained philosophers tend to look root causes and issues that impact whatever it is that they are looking at – something any company should be doing.
The added benefit of having a philosopher in the board room is that their presence can bring a more holistic sense to the company’s (and owners’) place in the world.
Asked to analyse a business, a philosopher would typically start by asking what its deep purpose was: that is, what its eudaimonic promise to its customers was made up of. Then he or she would look at how well the company was living up to the promise, before suggesting new products, services or brand messages that would align it more closely with its implicit promises.
Letting the odd philosopher into a business is not an indulgence. It would help management think more deeply about what a business should properly be trying to do with the customer’s life in order to improve it. There is (fortunately) no enduring conflict between understanding the psyche and making some money.